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Summer 2004
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Our GIS Day Heroes!

Every November people all over the planet volunteer their time, resources, and talents to prepare people, presentations, and demonstrations for their GIS Day events. These dedicated GIS professionals, citizens, teachers, and students work hard to create opportunities for ordinary people within a variety of organizations and walks of life to experience the vast possibilities of the extraordinary power of GIS technology.

In fall 2004 Esri will introduce a new feature on the GIS Day Web site to honor these people for their remarkable efforts. Our new GIS Day Heroes section will be a place for you to showcase the creativity, talent, and dedication that GIS Day event planners and organizers have exhibited in your region.

We hope the hero stories featured below will inspire you and your organization to join us on Wednesday, November 17, 2004, and become involved in the sixth annual celebration of this global educational mission.

Dr. Joseph Kerski

"Do you love maps and GIS?" This is an important question Dr. Joseph Kerski, geographer, Education/GIS at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Denver, Colorado, has been asking on his GIS Day announcements for the past several years.

  Dr. Joseph Kerski helps students usa GPS units
Working with a group of Morey Middle School students on a geocaching mission, Dr. Joseph Kerski helps them use their GPS units to find two objects hidden on the plaza grounds.

Ask Kerski the same question, and you'll receive a resounding "Yes!" as he has definitely proved his love of maps and GIS year after year. For the past five years, Kerski has passionately planned a variety of events to educate students, teachers, and his community about geography and GIS technology.

In 2003 alone, Kerski and his colleagues were involved in five Geography Awareness Week activities that included a hands-on geography workshop for 65 preservice geography teachers at the University of Northern Colorado, a hands-on mapping workshop, GPS–geocache and tour of the USGS mapping facility for 120 middle school and high school students, a presentation on publishing maps with ArcGIS software at the USGS Publications Conference, teaching a GIS class at Emily Griffith Opportunity School, and conducting workshops and operating a USGS information exhibit at the Colorado Science Teachers Convention.

Commenting on his GIS Day experience at the hands-on teacher workshop, Kerski explained, "This was an enjoyable group to work with, and it also showed the need for geography training for teachers—many of them did not have the opportunity to study geography at the elementary or secondary level in the past. We need to be including the subject in our schools! Therefore, I commend the University of Northern Colorado and these teachers for their commitment to making that happen for the next generation."

Kerski's enthusiasm for maps and GIS is sure to shine again this year as he prepares his busy schedule for GIS Day 2004.

Deborah McCaffrey

  Deborah McCaffrey reading to preschoolers
Deborah McCaffrey reading the Katy and the Big Snow story to segue into a talk about urban planning with a group of preschoolers on GIS Day 2003.

In the small town of Lebanon, New Hampshire, another GIS Day hero emerged in the offices of Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT), an Esri Business Partner. In 2003, Marketing Coordinator Deborah McCaffrey organized a GIS in Literature program, which culminated in GDT employees visiting 40 schools to teach students at three different levels about GIS.

As part of the program, students learned about GIS through the popular children's book Katy and the Big Snow. By using a map (similar to one a city planner might use), the K–3 children were able to help Katy (a snowplow) navigate throughout Geoppolis to plow snow off the streets after a big snowstorm. Students in grades 4–8 heard an introduction to GIS presentation with a simple mapping activity, and high school students worked on a routing plan and were introduced to the elements involved in digital routing.

In addition to its GIS in Literature efforts, GDT also hosted an open house on GIS Day welcoming the local community to its facility.

McCaffrey says, "We have discovered that sharing some simple GIS activities, such as a storybook that incorporates a map, can help students, even very young ones, begin to understand where they live and the physical characteristics of their town."

We know that McCaffrey and GDT will continue to impress us with their GIS Day programs in the future, and we can't wait to find out what story they will use for GIS Day 2004.

GIS Day is principally sponsored by the Association of American Geographers, Esri, the Library of Congress, the National Geographic Society, Sun Microsystems, the United States Geological Survey, and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.

Visit today to register your event or to submit a GIS Day Hero photo and quote. Each month we will spotlight a new hero.

Who knows, the next one may be you!

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